Among the positive "environmental practices" of the Belarusian citizens “I don’t smoke, I keep off the grass, I do not pick up mushrooms” can be found.
The term "environmentally friendly" has appeared about 10 years ago. Nevertheless, everyone knows such expressions as "environmental protection" and "conserving natural resources” from childhood. Moreover recently the "green" movement has been gaining popularity. Against this backdrop, sociologists tried to create an "environmental" portrait of the Belarusians, and the picture turned out to be quite controversial.
During the conference of the Center for Environmental Solutions, Anton Barisenka, the sociologist at the "Novak" laboratory, explained how environmental friendliness is being developed in Belarus.
- In October 2016, we conducted a survey of 1385 people. We assumed that the difference between urban and rural residents will be substantial, therefore the share of rural population was increased in the sample, - underlined the sociologist.
"Ecology and health are deteriorating, but there is no connection between it"
First of all, people were asked how they assess the state of the environment and their own health. In general, the Belarusians are rather pessimistic: almost half of the population believes that we see environmental degradation. Mostly people with higher education adhere to this point of view, whereas those with vocational education believe Belarus is improving its environmental situation. One out of six people believes that people are becoming healthier, but the majority - seven out of ten – hold the opposite opinion.
Every fourth Belarusian argues that they care about the environment. And just as many people don’t do anything to improve the ecological situation. At the same time, as it turned out, only one out of five people cares about their health and one third of the citizens do not pay attention to it at all.
Sociologists are very surprised by the fact that people do not realize the connection between the state of the environment and their health: 40% of the respondents were not aware of any links between the notions.
- It is very curious that those caring about the environment, their health and those understanding the relation between the two things are not the same people, - notes Anton Barisenka.
We see similar situation in the answers about the ways the Belarusians protect the environment. For example, people who sort wastes are not the same people who do not litter or collect garbage outdoors at all.
The ancestors were better; our descendants are our hope now
- People’s idea of being environmentally friendly is often associated with quite naive things. For example, some responded that they are non-smokers and this way they cause no harm to the environment. Or they keep off the grass. Others do not pick up mushrooms, - gives examples the researcher.
It is noteworthy that the Belarusians perceive only nature as the environment, and not where they live, what they eat, etc.
The term ‘environmental friendliness’ means not only causing no harm to the nature, but also responsibility towards the future generations. In this sense, according to the survey, personal responsibility for the environment is recognized by every fifth person only. Half of the population believes their way of life does not affect our environment. The majority of the Belarusians believe that the previous generations were more eco-friendly than people today. At the same time quite a lot of people are convinced that in the distant future, our descendants will be more conscious about the environment than we are.
Cheap and damaging wins over expensive and environmentally-friendly
- They are the same people who say that they are trying to use one plastic bag multiple times, but regularly buy new ones in stores. Or, for example, a quarter of Belarusians study the composition of the goods they buy carefully. But the majority of the respondents are willing to buy products harmful to the environment or their health, if they are cheaper than the environmentally friendly goods, - comments the expert the results of the survey.
About 60% of people mentioned they are trying to carpool with their family. Only 34% of respondents bikes as a means of transport, and biking is more popular in rural areas. It is Interesting, that people with higher education are less likely to use a bicycle.
10% of Belarusians would like to reduce their level of consumption, at the same time such a response was usually given by people with very high income.